Jill Zarin Says Husband Bobby's Death Left a 'Hole' in Her Heart in Loving Tribute Ahead of Funeral

Bobby Zarin died at 71 on Saturday following a prolonged cancer battle

Jill Zarin has shared a touching tribute to her late husband Bobby, who died at 71 on Saturday following a prolonged cancer battle.

“Rest In Peace my love,” she captioned a slideshow of photos of the two over the years. “Words cannot express the hole in my heart. Bobby taught me what true and deep love is. Thank you my love for sharing your life with me… for raising Allyson as if she was your own, being an amazing father and grandfather and teaching me how to be a better person. You inspire those around you to be the best they can be. I will never forget you… your legacy lives on through your beautiful children and grandchildren.”

“I will continue to raise money and awareness for ITOG (International Thyroid Oncology Group) so maybe this won’t happen to the next guy who draws the proverbial short straw,” she continued. “I will continue to honor you and make you proud. You taught me so many lessons. I will turn the lights off when I leave a room and try not to lose my keys! Lists! Yes I will make lists now that you can’t remind me.”

“Thank you to all our friends, family and fans for the most incredible love you have shown our family,” she said. “The messages bring tears to my eyes and will continue reading them all in the coming weeks. I will continue my tribute in the coming days and weeks and if you want to share anything please leave messages. Tomorrow is the funeral so I will sleep now. Love Jill.” (The family previously confirmed that a service would be held on Monday at 10 a.m. at Riverside Memorial in New York City.)

The former Real Housewives of New York City star announced her husband’s passing with a family statement on her website.

“With the heaviest of hearts, we are devastated to share the news that our beloved Bobby Zarin passed away peacefully today surrounded by family after a courageous battle with cancer,” read the statement. “There are no words to describe how heartbroken we are. Thank you, everyone for all your love, and support during this difficult time.”

Bobby was first diagnosed with thyroid cancer in 2009 and went on to have his thyroid removed. He also underwent radioactive iodine treatment.

“The radioactive iodine usually kills off whatever undetectable cancer cells are left in your body after surgery,” he previously told PEOPLE. “We thought it was cured — and it usually is in about 93 percent of cases. But I wasn’t able to absorb the radioactive iodine. So it came back.”

The cancer wound up returning and spread to his lungs. In 2016, Jill revealed to PEOPLE that he had been diagnosed with a brain tumor and underwent Gamma Knife Radiosurgery at the MD Anderson Cancer Center in Houston. His cancer took an “unexpected turn” last summer, and in July, he was admitted to Memorial Sloan Kettering Cancer Center in New York City while he recovered from a procedure.

“He is the most loving and caring person I have ever known besides my father,” Jill, 54, told PEOPLE at the time. “Sometimes life just isn’t fair. But we have such a great love story. He is the love of my life, and I will do everything in my power to heal and care for him.”

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